Reflections on the Year 2020

New Year’s brings an end to the year, and conclusion of the holiday season. It is a natural time to reminisce and think back over the past year. It is also a time to anticipate and look forward to a New Year and fresh start to our lives. We all are looking for a new beginning in 2021 and to say “good riddance“ to 2020.

To say this has been a tough year is an understatement. This has been one of the most challenging years I have had the privilege of living through.(I mean that literally, I feel fortunate to have my health and life when so many around me have been ill or have lost their lives.) So much tragedy and loss of life due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The numbers keep rising and many people seem immune to the enormity of the death toll. Gratitude to the multitude of health care workers and first responders must be expressed to those who risk their lives to care for the sick.

It is very sad that a simple health precaution like wearing a mask has become a political statement. This virus has ravaged the world and it will take the world working together to fight it. In addition to the illness itself, the loss of businesses, jobs and the shortage of food and money for basic living has been staggering. The impact on the mental and emotional health of everyone has been impacted and we will see the residual effect this has on people for a long time to come. Social isolation and loneliness which had already been a problem with older adults has increased significantly. Steps need to be taken to address this issue on a grand scale. In addition to the Pandemic, we have seen racial tensions mount, and social unrest rise to a new level. People want and demand change and have demonstrated they are willing to fight for social justice.

The political divide in this nation has been the largest chasms I have witnessed in my lifetime. So much hatred and violence, those who were once counted as friends became enemies due to differing political views. It is sad that people cannot accept others even if they have differing opinions. We are stronger as a nation when we work together, and I hope people can reconcile their differences and more harmonious living will be revealed in the future.

There have been a few positives that have come out of living with a pandemic. One of the most touching to me was that the environment across the world was given a short breather during the quarantine period when pollution was much lower than normal. World leaders need to work together as protectors of the environment to save this world for future generations. We can all do our part individually to help as well. Too many people live with little to no respect for the environment and seem ignorant or simply uncaring of their contribution to its demise. More education on the importance of environmental protection needs to be taught to people and especially to the youth of the world.

Other positives include, people have been given time to be introspective and decide what is really important to them. Families have grown closer together even if they needed to remain physically distant from each other. Nuclear families in the same household have been forced to spend more time together whether for better or worse. Many people were given the opportunity to get in touch with their creative selves through writing, music, crafting or art.

Some people tackled home improvement projects and focused on making their home their sanctuaries. More people made home-cooked meals and may have saved money by not eating out as much. Those who were transitioned to working from home saved money on gas, clothing, dry cleaning and other expenses incurred from social functions they did not partake in.

Many people strengthened their relationship with the natural world. More people got outdoors to exercise due to gyms and health clubs being closed. More people were walking in their neighborhoods, local, state and national parks. There was more biking, hiking, boating and camping than there has been in years. People were seen picnicking in the park with friends and family albeit socially distanced.

People were forced to embrace new technology to interact online. Zoom, Facetime and Google Meet were being used at all-time record numbers. People learned to shop online, bank online, take online classes, have Doctor’s appointments and visit with family and friends online. Although this is an important step for the future it is important to balance time spent on digital devices with time spent in nature and in physical activities opposed to sitting too long.

We will always have problems and challenges to deal with throughout life and 2020 has taught us how resilient we can be when we put our minds to it. If you look hard you will find there are some positives that came from the past year. We appreciate our family and friends and are grateful for our health, food on the table and homes to live in. We look forward to a new and better year and what life will bring in 2021. What will you bring to life in 2021?

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